Former Senator To Head Motion Picture Association

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The Motion Picture Association of America, the influential US film industry group, has landed a highly regarded former US senator as its next chairman and chief executive officer.

Sen. Chris Dodd, a strong-speaking Democrat from the northeastern state of Connecticut, was well-respected during his five terms in the Senate, and was seen as centrist on many issues. In the opening MPAA press release, Dodd made clear his top priority when it comes to the film industry: protection of intellectual property rights.

““The major motion picture studios consistently produce and distribute the most sought after and enjoyable entertainment on earth,” he said in a release. “Protecting this great American export will be my highest priority.””

Dodd, who started in the Senate in 1981 and retired in January, will take over his new post on 17 March. He has ties to the Obama and Clinton administrations, but was seen as a bipartisan player. His biggest role in the Senate was as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. He also was considered a possible candidate for US president.

Dodd steps into a position that caters well to well-connected personalities rather than film experts. His predecessor Dan Glickman made the move from his post as Agriculture Secretary. The association was made world-famous before that by firebrand Jack Valenti. Bob Pisano has acted in the role in the interim since Glickman left last year.

According to MPAA: “Born in Willimantic, Connecticut, Senator Dodd attended Providence College, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, and then received his law degree from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law in 1972. He served in the Connecticut National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserves and practiced law in Connecticut before being elected to Congress in 1974. He also served as the General Chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the re-election campaign of President William J. Clinton in 1995-1996.”

MPAA members include: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Gigi Sohn, president and cofounder of Washington public interest group Public Knowledge, which frequently goes head-to-head with MPAA on issues of knowledge access and telecommunications, issued a statement on the appointment.

“We welcome Senator Dodd to the MPAA and wish him good luck in his new role,” Sohn said. “We hope that he and his members will come to realize that technology is not your enemy – that instead technology can be the greatest means of distributing content the industry has ever seen.”

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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